Keep meaning to flag That's So Weird, a new 'tween sketch show continuing Wednesdays at 7:30 on YTV.
Had the pleasure of attending a taping several months ago at the old St. Francis of Assisi Catholic school at Dundas and Bathurst in Toronto. The "retired" school is still owned by the school board and has been leased out to DECODE Entertainment in the last year or so where it has been converted into a full-time production facility.
Sat on the bleachers with my son and a couple of his friends and checked out the seven member That's So Weird comedy troupe. All in the 19-26 age range, several hail from the GTA, including Orangeville-native Alana Johnston (the curly-haired blond on the right). She teams with Kayla Lorette (middle) on a terrific series of sketches where they play these 10-year-old boys. Johnston told me they were based on kids she used to babysit.
Have to say I was impressed by all their antics. The shtick did not seem dumbed down for YTV's boys and girls demo. The usual adult comedy sex jokes were missing but otherwise the sketches would have fit right in with anything presented back in the day on The Carol Burnett Show.
The various sketches were performed in stalls set up in a row along the gym floor, where they were presented to about 100 kids sitting in the old gym bleachers. Executive producer Gary Peason lists Mad-TV among his writing credits (he's currently on staff at The Ron James Show) and having attended a taping or two of that show down in L.A. a few years ago, I have to say the production is not really all that different. I'm sure if Fox could have shot that sucker in a school gym instead of Gower Studios in Hollywood, they would have.
Was it harder to write sketch comedy without going for the groin, I asked Pearson. "Even with YTV we tried to push that as far as we could within their standards," he says. "A lot of the comedy is coming out of personal relationship stuff. This boy has a crush on that girl. There’s nothing sexual about it but kids do have crushes."
As a parent and--surprise--former kid, Pearson can relate. "Whenever somebody’s heart is being broken, there is comedy to be found and we all can relate to that."
Check out more on this unique school set up and That's So Weird in the Star article here.